“We fought our corner and fought it very well” – Dundee boss James McPake has spoken of his pride at the performance of his players despite falling to defeat at Hibs.
The Dark Blues were knocked out of the Betfred Cup at the last 16 stage by a Jamie Murphy goal shortly before half-time at Easter Road.
However, McPake insists there were “improvements all over the pitch” from his side during the 1-0 defeat after the “terrible” display at Ayr United the previous week.
He said: “Compared to the last week, I’m extremely proud of my players. You could see the fight and determination in that team.
“For 70 minutes the last time we were at Easter Road, we were decent enough, but not to that level.
“That was a stronger Hibs team than the previous game.
“Last week (at Ayr), we were terrible. (On Saturday) There were improvements all over the pitch and there was a real desire to get after the ball.
“There was a controlled aggression about us. I think unfairly we picked up a few bookings.
“Both teams were very competitive in the game – at Ayr we weren’t, we were soft.
“On Saturday we certainly weren’t soft. We fought our corner and fought it very well.
“Ultimately we come away with a defeat but there are ways to lose. You can at least accept that performance and desire to defend their box against two top strikers.
“I’m extremely proud of my players.”
The defeat, however, makes it three losses in a row and just one win in six in all competitions.
Two of those were against Hibs, the side sitting fourth in the top-flight, sandwiching the disappointing day at Ayr.
Next up is Arbroath at Dens Park and McPake is certain a repeat of this performance will bring a much-needed three points when they get back to Championship action.
He added: “In football, you are judged on results. To get them, you need performances consistently.
“The performance was there on Saturday – I’m really proud of my players but gutted for them at the same time.
“I’m hurting because I wanted to be in the next round of the cup but my players are devastated because they know they deserved more out of that game. They didn’t deserve to lose it.
“We perform like that consistently then we’ll certainly win a lot more games.
“Ultimately we lost the game and are down but I can’t ask any more from my players.”
Hibs boss Jack Ross, meanwhile, was pleased to see his side book their place in the quarter-finals after what he described as a “difficult” game against Dundee – their second in just two weeks after beating the Dark Blues 4-1 in the group stage.
Ross said: “When you play a team again so quickly, especially after beating them so comfortably before, the next game is harder.
“That’s the way it worked out so I’m happy to get through.
“We have had a lot of games lately and won a lot of matches, so it’s demanding to keep producing – both physically and psychologically.
“It’s a cliche but cup competition is all about getting to the next round. It was difficult but I felt we deserved to go through.”